Looking at the Bright Side of Unschooling

Finding balance within your homeschool is the key to superior learning, and some unschooling philosophies can play a key role in that.

Image courtesy of lekkyjustdoit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

After writing yesterday’s post about our experience with unschooling, I began to wonder if I was able to adequately convey our good experiences with it. I fear that there was a bit of negativity at the end, and I felt the need to clarify myself.

I am not against unschooling. I feel that some of its philosophies about allowing children to pursue their own interests and using life as a curriculum hit the nail right on the head. I have seen first-hand how much children learn when they have a vested interest in something. In fact, our family still uses natural learning as an important part of our homeschooling routine. Our structured learning normally takes only about two hours a day, while the rest of the day is open for my children to engage in anything they find useful and interesting.

What this has looked like this past week has been my son deciding that he would like to become a wildlife photographer after spending hours at the creek every day taking photos like these:





Spending six hours a day doing structured school work would have prevented him from committing the time he did towards this project. Is this as valuable as book work? I’d have to say that this holds even more value because this is something he initiated on his own and will, therefore, remember all the better.

Before our unschool experiment, I would have scoffed if he had asked me to go to the creek during the school day every single day for an entire week. I would have lectured him about the importance of getting an education. Unschooling taught me to recognize that this is an education.

It also gave me the ability to see the worth in seemingly mundane things that many parents overlook. Caring for a sick baby bird. Making homemade paint out of sidewalk chalk. Helping the neighbor in her garden. These are all things I would happily set aside school work for in order to pursue.

Does this mean I do not assign value to book learning? Absolutely not. I am a self-professed nerd, and I realize that there are some things that are better learned with some structure- usually some sort of book, but not always.

It all comes down to balance. At the end of the day- at least with my children- there are some things which are best learned when they are taught, and there are other things best left to experience in real life. This is what homeschooling is all about. Finding the balance that is right for your family and allowing the joy that follows to shine through.

For more photos like these, you can follow my son on Instagram!


Linking up with:

This Is How We Roll

Think Tank Thursday

Thriving on Thursdays

Friendship Friday

Family Fun Friday

No Rules Weekend Blog Party

Homeschool Linkup

Friday Features

Friday Frivolity

Hearts for Home Blog Hop

Family, Friendship, and Faith Linkup

Pin Me Link Party

Make My Saturday Sweet

Homeschool Mother’s Journal

Making Your Home Sing Monday

Mommy Moments

Inspire Me Monday

Social Butterfly Sunday

Practical Mondays

Mommy Monday

Monday of Many Blessings

Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop

Tuesday Talk

Littles Learning Linkups

Wordless Wednesday

Top Notch Tuesday

Finishing Strong




Author: Shelly Sangrey

I'm Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling Mom of eleven children ( okay, not ALL children. My oldest is 23.) I met my husband right after graduation, and we've been together ever since. Though my life can be hectic at times... okay, ALL the time, I wouldn't change it for anything.

21 thoughts on “Looking at the Bright Side of Unschooling”

  1. I love that you’ve created your own blend of homeschooling and aren’t ashamed to share it! I’m pretty sure that’s the camp I fall into, as well. There are some underlying learning principles that I feel form the foundation, but then I still feel free enough to use whatever tools/methods might work at a given time, even if those fall outside of that framework a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is exactly what we do. I assign maybe an hours worth of schoolwork each day and wile my kids know they can negotiate WHAT they’re doing for school that day they know they have to do something. Then they’re free to follow their own pursuits. Learning about and experimenting with unschooling has allowed us to fall back on those philosophies during our non book hours and on vacation and weekends. I find my kids often learn more when I’m not giving them books but it does give us a nice balance and seem to satisfy all of our needs of having done something concrete for the day before we go off and learn through play.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. First of all, your son’s photos are lovely (even the spider – EEK!). There is much to be said for following your passion and exploring what appeals to you. I am currently trying to convince my son that just because he can read doesn’t mean he doesn’t need to “practice reading anymore”, but it is a tool to help us learn what we really want to know… every thing about Mario and the Mushroom Kingdom… ha ha! Thanks for sharing on #FridayFrivolity

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww, thank you! And I completely agree, except for my son it would be learning all about Minecraft. 🙂 Thanks for commenting and hosting #Friday Frivolity!


  4. Your son is a very talented, and brave photographer! The photos are beautiful. I love the flexibility of homeschooling, and a think a blend of unschooling mixed with a bit of book work sounds like an awesome balance! Thanks so much for sharing with #SocialButterflySunday! Hope to see you link up again this week 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I’ll tell him you said so! Unfortunately, now I have to be brave to because he lost the snake from that picture somewhere in our yard. 😦 Thank you for hosting #SocialButterflySunday! I will see you there tomorrow. 🙂


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